Opposition (politics)

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In politics, opposition ( Latin oppositio , opposing) stands for a view that is in contrast to the programmatic goals of a political movement , to the way of thinking and acting of authorities , to a ruling opinion or to a government policy .

In history and political science , the term is generic to political forces and organized groups of people in modern , Western States systems against political leaders act. The aim of oppositional behavior can be the desire for (greater) consideration of one's own interests or (in extreme cases) the political takeover. In the latter case, the political attitudes of the opposing actors can be directed against a political system as a whole, in which this is in principle not recognized (fundamental opposition ). Or the opposition appears as a systemic and legal opposition by acting as an opponent of the government in a parliament (parliamentary opposition). In this case, both the opposition and the government subscribe to the same constitutional principles . The term describes a constitutionally recognized cooperation of the members of a parliament, who are grouped together in parliamentary groups. The opposition is not part of the government, nor does it take on the role of supporting the government.

A distinction is also made between competitive and cooperative opposition, with mixed forms occurring in political practice. Above all, a competitive opposition tries to distance itself from the government and to point out its mistakes in order to position itself for the next elections and to present itself as a better alternative. A cooperative opposition tries to incorporate its ideas into the government's current legislative proposals , but has to refrain from criticizing the government too much.

In states without a democratically elected parliament and without freely organized parties, the opposition often expresses itself in the field of art ( writers , theater ), the church or, for example, within environmental groups. In extreme cases, there is only the possibility of illegal underground work and resistance .


In England , as early as the 18th century, the opposition was considered a great invention of the parliamentary system. As an opportunity to exert influence, despite the lack of government, it was already regarded as an important component of representation in the parliamentary system at that time. In Germany, on the other hand, the opposition was for a long time only equated with a mere negative, which did not play an extended role. After the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany, however, this understanding changed, which is expressed in a judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court in 1952, in which the “ right to constitutional formation and exercise of an opposition ” is counted among the “fundamental principles of the free and democratic basic order ”.

Abandonment of the opposition

In parliamentary democracy , the executive , the state authority, is to a certain extent controlled by parliament. The opposition factions are of particular importance within the framework of this parliamentary control , as they stand at a critical distance from the executive, in contrast to the governing parties . The juxtaposition of parliament and government corresponds in constitutional reality to the opposition and government.

In accordance with a parliamentary custom , the largest opposition faction in the German Bundestag chairs the budget committee . The group leader of the largest opposition group is also known as the opposition leader .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Christopher Dowe: Also educated citizen . Catholic students and academics in the German Empire (Zugl .: Tübingen, Univ., Diss., 2003). Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 2006, ISBN 3-525-35152-6 , p. 118.
  2. Dieter Nohlen & Rainer-Olaf Schultze (eds.): Lexicon of Political Science. Theories, methods, terms. Volume 2. 3., updated and extended Edition. Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-54117-8 , p. 638 ( Google Books ).
  3. ^ Herder Lexicon Politics. With around 2000 keywords and over 140 graphics and tables. Special edition for the state center for political education North Rhine-Westphalia . Freiburg / Basel / Vienna 1995, p. 156.
  4. a b Werner Weidenfeld & Karl-Rudolf Korte (eds.): Handbook on German Unity. 1949 - 1989 - 1999. Updated new edition. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt / New York 1999, ISBN 3-593-36240-6 , p. 164.
  5. ^ Peter Lösche : Opposition and Opposition Behavior in the United States. In: ders. (Ed.): Göttinger Sozialwissenschaften today. Questions, methods, content. Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1990, ISBN 3-525-35838-5 , p. 140.